Reviews for Ravishing Disunities : Real Ghazals in English

Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 November 2000
Why have so many contemporary poets who write free verse in English become so enamored of the ghazal, a difficult Arabic form? In the introduction to this wonderfully stimulating collection of recent ghazals by 107 poets, editor and poet Ali discusses the tradition's long legacy, which harkens back at least to the seventh century, and its unique stipulations. The name refers to "the cry of the gazelle when it is cornered in the hunt and knows it will die," a clue to its classic melancholia. The form consists of a series of discrete couplets in which the second line offers a surprising spin on the first. One rhyme scheme runs throughout the poem, and the rhyme must precede the refrain. This leads to an "epigrammatic terseness" that does not belie great depth of longing or, in the hands of modern poets, nimble wit and tempered joy. The ghazal truly is an enchanting form, and each poet, including Diane Ackerman, W. S. Merwin, William Matthews, John Hollander, and Jacqueline Osherow, fills it with sharply etched feelings and images. --Donna SeamanCopyright 2000 Booklist Reviews